President Joe Biden still has plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio, after a Norfolk Southern train derailed and leaked hazardous chemicals into the community in early February, the White House confirmed on Monday.
Biden has yet to visit the small Ohio town after the train derailment occurred on Feb. 3 and a controlled burn was conducted on Feb. 6, which leaked toxic chemicals into the environment. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Monday’s press briefing that the president still intends to go, but has no specific details. (RELATED: ‘Show Them You Care’: Former Dem Rep. Tim Ryan Chides Biden For Not Going To East Palestine)
“He keeps his word,” Jean-Pierre said when prompted about Biden’s travel plans. “I don’t have a trip to lay out or preview for you at this time, but I’m just going to let the president’s word stand.”
Biden has made inconsistent statements as to whether he will visit East Palestine. He initially told reporters on Feb. 24 that he had no plans to visit the community, but changed his answer on March 2 and pledged he would go “at some point.”
“If the president said he is expecting to at some time, the president means what he says,” Jean-Pierre added on Monday. “I just don’t have a trip to preview at this time.”
White House officials told NBC News on March 6 that there were no set plans for the president to visit. A senior official told the outlet that the decision of whether to visit has not been something the administration has “been agonizing over in real-time,” while a second official said that if the president did go it would be at a time that “makes sense.”
Biden has faced criticism for not arriving at the scene sooner. East Palestine Mayor Trent Conway said he was “furious” over Biden’s decision to visit Ukraine, and not East Palestine, in late February, while multiple residents told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they were also frustrated by the decision.
“The federal government, Biden, has not acknowledged East Palestine so I’m a little bit unhappy about that,” William Hugar, an East Palestine resident, told the DCNF. “The first week that it happened Biden was too busy popping Chinese balloons.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also faced criticism for his response to the derailment. Buttigieg eventually visited the town three weeks after the derailment.
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